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Author: Blonde Bombshell

September 5, 2016 | 73 Comments

Why Trump? — Guest Post by the Blonde Bombshell

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As the election nears, some voters and pundits continue to be perplexed why Donald J. Trump is on the ballot.

Forget that the country underwent a political process, where the field of 17 was whittled down to Trump. And also forget that while the winnowing process underway, the media added up the numbers of the also-rans and declared triumphantly that Trump was losing, because the aggregated number of “against” votes outweighed the “for” votes. However, sad as it seems, the “for” votes were tabulated for what they were, leaving the “against” voters in the dust. Sorry, #NeverTrump-ers, but that is how math works: The one with the most votes wins (caveat: notwithstanding the special math employed by the electoral college).

Also conveniently forget that the real contenders for Mrs. Clinton were the fearsome Jeb Bush and equally formidable Marco Rubio.

The events of the past eight years have paved the way for Trump: the rise and disembowelment of Tea Party movement; the current attitude and actions of the sitting president; and the unwillingness of anyone in the GOP to not only to articulate but robustly support a coherent point of view (that, egads, may be opposition to the Democratic party line).

The Tea Party movement was born, almost accidentally, from the exercised remarks of CNBC commentator Rick Santelli as he reacted to President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; aka Stimulus or Bailout). Since 1913, taxpayers have come to terms with persistent nature of the tax system, and grudgingly go along with having their tax dollars fund policies and practices they don’t necessarily agree with.

However, the ARRA unabashedly released taxpayer funds (provided by people who tried to make good decisions, but were still struggling) to people and businesses that made genuinely bad decisions (and would no longer be struggling, thanks to the harried taxpayer). This unfair allocation of funds stuck in the craw of a proportion of the voting population. To be fair, the ARRA passed without a single GOP Congressional vote, but it did manage to garner three Senate votes. Nevertheless, the complete disregard for the will of the people mobilized what became the Tea Party movement.

Adding fuel to the fire was the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was legislation that was so lousy that it was on life support from the beginning. Since motions involving expenditures have to originate in the house, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi honed in on HR3590, which was a military housing bill that they stripped of content and dumped in the text created by Jonathan Gruber, John McDonough, and Ezekiel Emanuel (none of whom at the time were duly elected members of Congress). On Christmas Eve 2009, the Senate had 60 votes to pass the bill, and it did, without a single GOP yea.

Shortly after, Democrat Edward Kennedy died, which led to the election of Republican Scott Brown. This is important is because Congress was still engaged in a minutia of bill passing, and it was still possible that Scott Brown could cast a crucial vote.

There wasn’t a final version of the bill that both the House and Senate were happy with. The deal was made where the House would pass Reconciliation Act of 2010 that made changes to the original ACA. The Senate passed the Reconciliation Act on March 25, 2010.

But the vote in the Senate made use of the little-used “Reconciliation Rule” (not to be confused with named House bill) that permits budget items to pass with 51 votes rather than 60. Ultimately, it did not make one whit of difference that Scott Brown was elected. Although from the moment he was sworn in to the minute that the Senate voted on the Reconciliation Act, there was something in the air that felt like hope.

With the disappointments of the ARRA and the ACA, the Tea Party was poised to be force in the 2010 elections. Some of the same insider fighting that dogs Trump’s race for the White House was evident in the 2010 mid-term elections. Predictably, Tea Partiers were denounced as “racists” because they did not warmly endorse the policies of President Obama.

As a party, it was a bust. There weren’t great swells of new congressman darkening the halls of the Capitol. There were some, and a few at the state level. They could achieve some things, but because the way the system operates (or to employ a term used by one candidate, is “rigged”) there was no way that an eager first-termer can shake things up without the blessing of the party leaders. Evidently, no blessings were forthcoming.

When the Tea Party wasn’t being suffocated by the GOP establishment, it was being
deliberately swindled by the consultant class. And those efforts were largely successful.

Fast forward to the current moment. President Obama supplied the Iranians with $400 million in currency under mysterious and bewildering circumstances. There is also that little administrative loose end of turning over the oversight of the internet to the UN.

Over the Labor Day weekend, Obama pledged the US to the Agenda 21 goals. It is reassuring that he did not exactly sign a treaty, but only engaged in the pantomime of putting his name on an “executive agreement.” It is an open question if he will engage in similar statesmanship when it comes to the TPP. After all, precedent has been set.

As for the current GOP leadership, do they have a view? Where are the full-throated calls to investigate the Obama administration for the Iran cash-for-hostages deal? Why is there no interest in keeping the internet oversight under US control? Where is the opposition to Obama’s maneuvering with Agenda 21? Doesn’t the Senate have some duty to rubber-stamp treaties?

Where are the cries for health insurance reform? During the primaries it was a surprise to many that Ted Cruz led so many (failed) efforts to repeal the ACA. Where were the hearings? Where were the stories of working families who are shackled not only with five-figure premiums but also five-figure deductibles (sometimes per family member)? How did Cruz lead this fight? Was it a matter of filing a piece paper? Wow, that was effective.

Where was the pushback when Speaker of the House Paul Ryan proved to the nation that he inherited John Boehner’s “kick me” sign when he cheerfully ushered in a new budget deal in October 2015? Who needs enemies when your friends and allies treat you so poorly?

GOP legislators don’t do very much. They can muster “nay” votes when they have to, but they aren’t forging new legislation, they aren’t creating new directions that are going to signal a better future for the American public. In the last eight years, the GOP lost so many opportunities, and allowed the genius of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to outfox and hoodwink them, not once, but over and over again.

Not only for healthcare, but also for other issues—how hard is it to sit down and think through what legislative trickery is available, and to come up with a strategy to check it? Where did they put their “thinking caps”?

The GOP establishment can win primaries, but they can’t lead. They can’t make a stand. They can’t make a decision or have an opinion and stick with it. They don’t fight for what they believe in—in fact, what do they believe in? They are like leaves blowing on the breeze, without an intention or a set direction, and without a sense of unity or purpose.

There is no perfect presidential candidate, and to pretend there is such a thing is folly. Some of the enduring criticism of Trump is that he is a flawed individual. When harping on Trump’s imperfections, the suggestion hangs in midair that, in contrast, Mrs. Clinton’s virtues are legion and worthy.

It is the voters’ duty to elect someone that they will agree with more often than not. And it is the leader’s duty to look after the interests of the citizens—not just the ones who showed up in the polls on a November day, but also the ones who will become citizens, either by birth or by oath, in the coming years.

Trump is that candidate. Trump has a point of view. He has a direction. He can listen. He can modify. He will fight.

That’s why Trump.

June 10, 2016 | 11 Comments

Consider The Hand — Guest Post by the Blonde Blombshell

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Editor’s note As I prepare for class this weekend, I have some guest posts and reader’s questions prepared for us.

The poor hands of the modern person are becoming nothing more than useless stubs. While not everyone spends their spare time chiseling a statue, painting portraits, or building houses, it is, in theory, possible to make dinner, write a letter, and shuffle a deck of cards. Alas, even something as simple as unlocking a door is becoming too much trouble for the modern human. In fact, humans spend so many hours a day cradling a phone in their hands that doctors have observed that there is a tendency in some people to develop an oversized thumb.

There was once vanity, but it was of a different sort. There is a fairytale popularized by the Brothers Grimm about a girl who hated to spin so much that her mother was fed up and beat her. A passing queen heard the cries and inquired as to the problem. To save face, the mother told the queen that she was too poor to keep her daughter in enough flax to satisfy her need to spin. The queen took her away and as a reward, showed the girl rooms full of flax so she could spin to her heart’s content.

The girl was saved by three women who said they would help if they could be invited to the wedding of the girl and the queen’s son, to whom she would be betrothed after her success at spinning (of course). It ends well, the flax is spun and the three women were invited to the wedding—one had a large foot, another a large lip, and the last, a large thumb. The prince asked about this, and they admitted that their deformities were the result of treadling the wheel, licking the thread, and twisting the thread. The prince vowed that his bride would never touch a spinning wheel, lest the same misfortune befall her.

In an updated version, the oversized thumb would be a thing of beauty and correlated to one’s likes on social media.

Parents and teachers in the not-too-distant past were concerned that their wards would develop the manual dexterity needed for legible penmanship. Putting words on paper was not an end in itself, but it was also a way to create and strengthen the connections in the brain that made learning possible. While a child wouldn’t be able to say that they were developing their fine motor skills, they could thread a needle, wind a ball of yarn, and play cat’s cradle.

Along came the PC and then there was widespread anxiety that the children would be unemployable if they could not put numbers into a spreadsheet. Penmanship and even block printing became secondary, and children no longer had the opportunity to use writing as a truly mental exercise. Handwriting is coming back, a little bit, revived by those who have recognized what has been lost. But what has been lost will not be recovered in its entirety, and a generation has been lost to the computer.

Someone told me that if we let the little tasks fall by the wayside, that our giant brains will be used for greater things and thinking bigger thoughts. It is a pleasurable to ruminate on the possibilities, of course, but I have a hard time believing that the great things of the future were put on hold because we were too busy chopping vegetables or fishing for a key ring in a briefcase.

May 6, 2016 | 30 Comments

The Silliness With Bathroom Laws — Guest Post by The Blonde Bombshell

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First of all, the business about going to the restroom of your birth sex is just wrong. Moms have been bringing little boys into the women’s room for a long time, partly due to convenience, and partly due to their unwillingness to send them into the men’s room on their own. Duly noted that there are family bathrooms in some localities, but that is not always the case.

Ah, and why would mothers be reluctant to send little boys into the men’s room unattended?

Some mothers get around this problem by finding a kind-looking man and asking them to accompany their son into the bathroom. While that may seem like a workable solution, it has the potential to backfire. After all, every creeper isn’t missing teeth and has questionable hygiene. That is, they can’t be spotted a mile away.

There are approximately over 800,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, and this does not include the ones who haven’t been caught, or the ones who haven’t started but are looking for the right opportunity to get their feet wet. Who can blame a mother who would like to make sure her son is safe from incidental molestation or worse?

Bathrooms—especially highway rest stops—are not necessarily the safest of places, for females or males. The story that shadowed my youth was the murder of one Jane Snow at a highway pit stop outside of Gaylord, Michigan. She was traveling with her young sons, who did not accompany her into the women’s room (and likely were in the men’s room; and according to another news report went outside to run around), and when she did not emerge, one of the boys went into check, to find her body which was determined to have been stabbed 22 times. The boy had the presence of mind to alert a fellow traveler. This is a horrifying story, and my classmates and I found it even more horrifying because we had all been in that bathroom. We all knew that rest stop, and shuddered to think how vulnerable we were.

The simple fact that law preventing males from entering a restroom contrary to their birth sex would not have stopped the crime. To my knowledge, the murderer is still at large, and were such a silly law been effect, the charge could have been added to felony manslaughter.

Speaking of little boys, in 1998, little Matthew Cecchi was murdered while his aunt was waiting for him outside a public restroom. The man who was convicted of the killed committed suicide at the San Quentin State Prison in 2011. The adult in charge did everything right. She sent in the 9-year-old into the men’s room and waited for him outside. At no time was he more than a few feet from her, but the little boy still met a brutal, senseless end. Nine may be a little old for going into the ladies’ room with your aunt, but it could have saved his life.

What is missing in this debate is an acknowledgement of common sense and safety. It makes sense for little boys to accompany their mothers and aunts to the women’s room if dad or uncle isn’t around. Parents and guardians need be able keep boys and girls safe from harm, and the law should not prevent them from doing so.

Men kitted out with under-the-stall or other cameras with the intention of photographing unsuspecting bathroom users should not be allowed in women’s rooms. Period. Existing laws can be used to prosecute lurking in the women’s room with a camera.

As for bathroom access for (non-camera carrying) transgendered folks—if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then the duck can go in the women’s room. But the duck shouldn’t expect to find a urinal there.

February 25, 2016 | 30 Comments

In Support of Unpaid Work

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Editor says: note the author’s name.

From The Atlantic:

Unless things change, girls today will spend hundreds of thousands more hours than boys doing unpaid work simply because society assumes it’s their responsibility,” [Melinda Gates] writes in the letter, which is written for a teenage audience.

The article is cluttered with numbers about how women, even in so-called advanced societies like Finland, are burdened with the drudgery of housework. This type of analysis has been around for decades, and women’s magazines in the era of liberation were replete with conjectures of the astronomical amounts a stay-at-home mom would earn if she were paid for all the cleaning, chauffeuring, nursing, etc. she performed on a daily basis. Or the magazines would have fun with the analogy of mothers as domestic engineers or household CEO’s. Which is amusing, but really doesn’t fly on the old resume.

The fact is that there is women’s work, and the reason why there is women’s work is because men do it wrong. Just ask any man who has tried to help his wife or mother. He will do it, but he will fumble, and the plates will be stacked wrong, or the silverware will mysteriously find new homes, or butterfingers will chip the china or shatter the glassware. The cynic would say that he does it on purpose, to avoid being called on to help in the future. Maybe it’s true, and the average man is just too clever for his own good. But it could also be true that he is an untrainable dolt.

I am not completely convinced that the studies like the one Mrs. Gates chooses to cite take into account the breadth of what is commonly known as “men’s work.” Men’s work is mostly outdoor work. Cars need fixing, windows need washing, paint needs scraping, screens have to be put in or taken out. An imaginative man can keep busy with little chores that will satisfactorily fill up evenings and weekends. Just because he’s not running the vacuum doesn’t mean that he is not contributing to the cleanliness, safety, and comfort of the home environment.

When I clean the house, wash the dishes, and do the laundry, I get to live in a clean house, eat from sparkling dishes, wear fresh clothes, and sleep on immaculate sheets. When I cook a meal, whether it takes me 20 minutes or 2 hours, I get to enjoy the wonderful food that I prepare with my own two hands. I directly benefit from my labors. No one is doing it for me, and I can have the satisfaction of a job well done. That others—and possibly men—may benefit from my hard work is incidental.

The other part of the equation that never quite gets calculated properly is the joy and satisfaction one can get from unpaid work—whether making a quilt, mending clothing, replacing a lost button, or ironing the shirts. It is possible to buy quilts or have the dry cleaners do the mending, sew on buttons and take care of the shirts. Even though the actual work is outsourced, it takes time and energy to haul things to the cleaners and carry purchased goods from the store.

Personally, it would frustrate me to be obligated to pay someone to rummage through my things, paw through my drawers, and prepare meals that very well could taste like sawdust in my mouth. What is the going rate for home assistance? I don’t think I could afford it, especially at the Governor Cuomo-endorsed rate of $15 an hour.

My wages would have to rise considerably for me to enjoy my current standard living if I were to abandon all unpaid work. On the bright side, I could spend my increasing number of leisure hours at the office. Talk about drudgery.

What is surprising is that there isn’t public consternation about the hours and hours that women spend at the office, caged in a cubicle, tethered to a desk, under poor lighting, with their eyes riveted to Excel spreadsheets. Many of these women have expensive educations, and sometimes more than one degree, and this is their reward?

I’m not sniffing at earning a paycheck, and sometimes, it has to be done. But, there is unsung and uncelebrated satisfaction in doing work that is marginalized, undervalued, and yes, unpaid.